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Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years Paperback – December 10, 2009

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1857885347 ISBN-10: 1857885341 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Cheaper than a crystal ball and twice as fun, this book by futurist and web creator Watson examines what "someday" could be like, based on the five key trends of ageing; power shift to the East; global connectivity; the "GRIN" technologies of Genetics, Robotics, Internet, and Nanotechnology; environmental concerns, and 50 less general but equally influential developments that will radically alter human life by the year 2050. Watson gently scoffs at Jetsons-like wishful-thinking technology and flying cars; instead he predicts the fanciful (mindwipes, stress-control clothing, napcaps that induce sleep) and the useful (devices to harness the sea to generate energy; self-repairing car paint; retail technology that helps us shop, based on past buying habits; hospital plasters that monitor vital signs). In between the fun and frivolity, he prognosticates the frightening: the "extinction" of individual ugliness and free public spaces; the creation of hybrid humans; a society made of people who are incapable of the tiniest tasks; and insects that carry wireless cameras to monitor our lives. Part Jules Verne, part Malcolm Gladwell, Watson has a puckish sense of humor and his book is a thought-provoking, laughter-inducing delight.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

On a less than promising note, Watson, a self-proclaimed futurist writer and speaker, starts by back-peddling and reframing his book as a survey of 200 trends that will affect the next 42 years (presumably in order to go up to the half-century point). He has gleaned these emerging patterns from immersing himself in the popular media, a method he defends as a discipline with an everyman, anti-intellectual appeal. His predictions run from mundane (depleted oil reserves will be a problem) to trite (science will be the new religion) to facetious (memories will be erasable with a premoistened towelette called a mindwipe). He fails to provide facts, citations, or even arguments to support his meandering diatribe. One proclamation follows another, leading to an ambivalent conclusion that the future may or may not be a nice place to live. Each section ends with a postcard from the future that is apparently meant to provide comic relief. Unfortunately, more often than not they simply make obvious observations in a snide and petulant voice. Perhaps tellingly, Watson suggests "Further Reading" in lieu of citations or a bibliography. Not recommended.—Robert Perret, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing; Reprint edition (December 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857885341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857885347
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By S. Michael Bowen on November 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
Oh, in 2050, how happy we'll be. We'll have "soft" bathtubs that mold to our bodies, smart bullets (that follow bad guys around corners) and "gravity tubes" (small but weightless areas). An Internet that appeals to all five senses. Female Viagra. Driverless cars that are biodegradable and shift their paint jobs with our moods. Cash and coins will go away (we'll all have "wallet-phones"), as will desktop computers, nation-states (like Belgium) and insistence on proper spelling. You'll bag your own groceries and just walk out -- nano-transmitters will scan your purchases and e-mail you the bill. Doctors will listen for cancer (because aggressive but tiny cells still make noise). And the military will download combat "memories" into recruits' minds.
That's what Richard Watson predicts in *Future Files,* anyway. Of course, futurists can be wrong. (Remember "paperless offices" and "more leisure time"?) Still, readers will enjoy Watson's browsable book, which states its organizing principles right off: The "5 Trends That Will Shape the Next 50 Years" include aging (it's not just America's Social Security system that's going to be strained); power-shifts to China (manufacturing), India (services) and the Middle East (finances); connectivity (cell phones, cell phones everywhere, and not a thought to think); GRIN technologies (advances in genetics, robotics, the Internet and nanotechnology that will have computers outsmarting us); and the environment (with sustainability and conservation becoming badges of honor).
But Watson also falls into two traps: hedging his bets and over-generalizing. Today, people like their food fast and convenient -- though there's also a slow-food movement brewing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sam Harvey on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've never been a huge fan of so called trendcasters because a lot of times they'll focus on such limited audiences or topics. A friend raved about Future Files, so I thought I'd give it a glance- I couldn't put it down. Now I'm not naive enough to imagine that just because the author says something means it will happen (and I don't think we'll be around in 50 years to argue whether he was wrong or right anyway) but he brings in such entertaining references that you understand how he reaches these conclusions. I think that it would be interesting to compare a few of the new books about what's next and see the recurring themes. In all, this is a book I thoroughly enjoyed, though some aspects really disturbed me (can you imagine hiring someone to hold your hand after surgery to help soothe you?). A lot of fun and a lot to think about- great gift book too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
In this bold, entertaining book, futurist Richard Watson reports the results of decades of thought about the future. He identifies more than 200 separate trends, which he helpfully winnows down into five overarching themes illustrated with real-world and hypothetical examples. His breezy style weaves these themes into the major areas of life: work, finances, politics, science, health care and entertainment, among others. Watson's vision of the future covers all aspects - literally everything from taking baths to artificial intelligence - and the sweep of his ambition is impressive. He augments his text with good graphics, some perhaps tongue-in-cheek (his "Extinction Timeline" has Belgium biting the bullet around 2049). The book's one weakness is that, while Watson tells readers what will happen in the future, he doesn't always explain why. This caveat aside, getAbstract recommends this engaging book to leaders, innovators and all those interested in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joao Cortez on December 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was curious about this book, but in the end it was a little bit of a let down. In terms of what the future will look like, the author identifies some macro-trends, but goes on to be too vague and also in most of the cases stating that something will pick-up but also the opposite (e.g.: some people will like it fast and some will like it slow; some people will embrace technology and some will try to get away from it). Also, the author is too much reliant on technology to solve energy and environment problems when there are physical limitations to what technology can accomplish. I strongly recommend "The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment" by Chris Martenson instead,
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